Den Eglantier youth center will cease to exist: “Everyone could go here for a chat and help” (Berchem)

Den Eglantier youth center will cease to exist: “Everyone could go here for a chat and help” (Berchem)
Den Eglantier youth center will cease to exist: “Everyone could go here for a chat and help” (Berchem)

The youth center, founded in 2004, where concerts and parties took place in addition to workshops, is throwing in the towel. “The city of Antwerp has decided not to give us any subsidies from next year,” says Sineray Karaca, chairman of Den Eglantier, “and that’s the end of course. Very unfortunate for the young people from the area who used our services. Our part-time employee has also been informed and is looking for another job.”

Teenagers from the neighborhood knew Den Eglantier as a place where they could always hang out and play computer games. The door was always open for a conversation. “Every week, our youth worker drew up the activity plan together with the young people. This way it was decided together what they would organize and do. Everyone was welcome here, including parents. When problems arose, they could come to us for help and a chat.”

Sineray Karaca (left) will also close the door behind him on December 22. — © Dirk Kerstens

Karaca, who has been active within Den Eglantier since 2016, has seen the amount of the subsidy shrink every year. “We used to employ three full-time employees,” she says. “Every year we received less money, every year we had to downsize our operations because we could no longer pay the staff.”

And yet the youth center bravely stood its ground. “Not only young people could come to us,” says Karaca. “But local residents also knew Den Eglantier well. For example, we organized ‘Music in the neighborhood’ for Summer of Antwerp and many Antwerp residents have attended a party or a performance in our venue.”

Den Eglantier is organizing a farewell party on Friday, December 22, where young and old are welcome. “We hope to welcome everyone who has ever been here,” says Karaca. “This way we can close the door behind us together. We will have a party one last time, together with the DJ.”

“Door remains open”

“The decision of the Den Eglantier youth center to close their doors soon is a development that we regret,” responds Councilor of Youth Jinnih Beels (Vooruit). “Not only because of the impact on young people, but also because of the joint efforts made to maintain and optimize this youth work. We are now looking for a suitable alternative for the young people in the area.”

“Two years ago, JC Den Eglantier was made independent by the umbrella organization Formaat without the transfer of associated resources,” says Beels. “As a city, we have made efforts to support and protect this youth work. That is why we have provided financial support over the past two years, with the aim of enabling them to submit an application to the Flemish Government to be recognized as a youth home. Unfortunately, that application was refused.”

“After all, the door always remains open for the operation of Den Eglantier,” Beels emphasizes. “We are now looking for a different solution, where young people and local residents can go again. We are also investigating the possibility of offering space for volunteer work at the current youth center if they so wish.”

Tags: Den Eglantier youth center cease exist chat Berchem


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